Military Advocate General: IDF showed restraint during operation

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Tal Russo during Operation Pillar of Defense. Photo: IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson’s Unit

Former Head of Military Intelligence at conference on urban warfare: “Hezbollah is the only terror organization in the world which possesses ballistic weapons”

Date: 02/11/2013, 10:54 AM     Author: Yair Barzilai

“During Operation Pillar of Defense, we faced numerous situations in which we could have legally acted in a more aggressive way than the way we chose to act, and would have realized a significantly better operational achievement. However, on our own initiative we chose a more moderate path,” Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni said on Wednesday (February 6), speaking at the Second International Conference on the Challenges of Warfare in Densely Populated Areas.

The conference, which was held at Tel Aviv University, was organized by the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross. It featured leading security specialists from government, military and academia, including experts on urban warfare. 

Maj. Gen. Efroni emphasized the IDF (Zahal)’s commitment to ethical conduct and international law, stressing that “the IDF (Zahal)’s actions with regard to maintaining the rules of international law are unprecedented compared to similar operational circumstances [in other militaries]. In light of Hezbollah’s strengthening in Lebanon, we will nonetheless continue to uphold the principles of international law and to give the correct weight and measure to considerations of legitimacy.”

Military Advocate General: IDF showed restraint during operation

Maj. Gen. Efroni speaking at the conference. Photo: Judah Ari Gross, IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson’s Unit

According to Maj. Gen. Efroni, being committed to international law is often not enough, due to the importance of public opinion. “We cannot only aspire to be right, but rather to also be smart,” he said, underscoring that IDF (Zahal) activities are often misperceived by media outlets, creating a false picture of actual events.

INSS Director Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, who previously served in top IDF (Zahal) positions including Head of Military Intelligence and Military Attaché to Washington, D.C., concluded the conference by addressing an additional concern regarding recent trends in asymmetrical warfare.

“We talk about asymmetrical fighting, but we forget that the Hezbollah is the only terror organization in the world which possesses ballistic weapons,” he explained, “so the asymmetry in weaponry is evaporating, the asymmetry in technology is disappearing – we saw the fairly advanced drone which [the Hezbollah] launched recently – [and] the asymmetry in the warheads is disappearing. The only asymmetry which is not closing, rather is inversely widening now, is the one regarding our social norms, rules, ethics and our values regarding human life.”